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Cybersecurity engineers are among the highest paid in the growing cyber industry. Obtaining a master’s degree from one of these 6 schools may advance your career Cybersecurity engineers are among the highest paid in the growing cyber industry. Obtaining a master’s degree from one of these 6 schools may help your career advance | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


BY Preston ForeOctober 11, 2023, 5:31 PM

Photo illustration by Fortune; Original photo by Getty Images

Cybersecurity remains one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With hundreds of thousands of open positions in the United States alone—and salaries averaging six-figures—now is no better time to learn more about cybersecurity and potentially enhance your career.

The industry is predicted to grow by 32% over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and information security analysts earn $112,000 annually on average.  

But within the realm of the cybersecurity industry, engineers are among the top-pay positions, based on tech staffing agency Mondo data cited by the University of San Diego.

The school is home to one of the nation’s few cybersecurity programs specific to engineering.

Haydar Majeed is a professor of practice—and alum—at the University of San Diego’s master of science in cybersecurity engineering program.

His journey in cybersecurity began working for the U.S. military in Iraq focusing on language as well as encryption and decryption. He says he in part chose to come to San Diego due to its hands-on learning with a virtual cyber lab that simulated real-life offensive and defensive technologies.

Additionally, the program’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency (NSA) sealed the deal for Majeed. Hundreds of higher education institutions have the distinction.

He says one myth of cybersecurity programs is that you need to know a ton of math or hacking. 

“We built the program—and we continuously update the program—to be gradual. So, we’ll walk you in regardless of your background,” Majeed tells Fortune. “So whether you’re technical, non technical— you’re gonna find the program actually fitted to who you are.”

Cybersecurity is important since it is embedded and is essential to most industries —from banking to law to marketing, he adds. After graduating from San Diego, he founded his own cybersecurity firm, which was later acquired.

An additional success story, Majeed notes, is that one student in the San Diego program went from earning less than $50,000 a year as an Uber driver to working at a data analytics company with a $150,000 annual salary.

For Michael Stiber, professor at the University of Washington Bothell, teaching cybersecurity is about preparing students for technologies and challenges that don’t yet exist. 

“New technologies like AI are not only opportunities to make systems more robust against attack; they are also tools that can make the bad guys’ jobs easier,” Stiber tells Fortune. “Cybersecurity is our defense against such things and cybersecurity professionals are the digital makers and first responders keeping our increasingly digital lives safe.”

And while there are many facets of—and ways to study—cybersecurity he says individuals should weigh their own background, life commitments, and career objectives to determine what’s best for them.

If the intersection of engineering and cybersecurity fits that mold for you, Fortune has saved you some time and compiled a list of just some of the U.S. universities with master’s programs in cybersecurity engineering.

Duke University

  • Program: Pratt School of Engineering—Cybersecurity master of engineering
  • Length: 30 credit hours (minimum 3 or 5 semesters, depending on format)
  • Tuition: ~$95,000
  • Format: Online or in-person 
  • Course/Module Examples: Cybersecurity Risk Management; Blockchain; Identity and Access Management

University of Maryland

  • Program: Maryland Applied Graduate Engineering—Masters in cybersecurity
  • Length: 30 credit hours
  • Tuition: $41,820 (online); ~$34,541 (in-person full-time)
  • Format: Online or in-person
  • Course/Module Examples: Digital Forensics and Incidence Responses;Secure Software Testing and Construction; Cloud Security

University of San Diego

  • Program: Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering—Master of science in cyber security engineering
  • Length: 30 units (20 months)
  • Tuition: $37,500 ($1,250/unit)
  • Format: Online or in-person
  • Course/Module Examples: Applied Cryptography; Security Test Engineering; Secure Network Engineering

University of Southern California

  • Program: Viterbi school of engineering—master of science in cyber security engineering
  • Length: 28 units
  • Tuition: $67,872 ($2,424/unit)
  • Format: Online or in-person
  • Course/Module Examples: Applied Cryptography; Security and Privacy in Informatics; Computer Systems Assurance

University of Washington at Bothell

  • Program: School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics—Master of science in cybersecurity engineering
  • Length: 46-49 credit hours (1.5-2 years if full-time)
  • Tuition: ~$41,630-$44-345 ($905/credit)
  • Format: In-person
  • Course/Module Examples: Malware and Attack Reverse Engineering; Mobile Computing; Ethical Penetration Testing

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Program: McKelvey School of Engineering—Master of science in cybersecurity engineering
  • Length: ~27-30 credit hours
  • Tuition: $30,875/semester
  • Format: In-person
  • Course/Module Examples: The Hacker Mindset: Cyber Attack Fundamentals; Reverse Engineering and Malware Analysis; Data-driven Privacy and Security

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